Tu-95MS "Bear", strategic bomber-missile carrier: description, technical characteristics

History of the aircraft

It is worth noting that the TU-95 MS is a long-range bomber that was first launched into the skies in 1952. In 1950, it was necessary to strengthen the strategic position of the Air Force as quickly as possible. This was the impetus for the development of the bomber, the project of which was approved and approved in 1951. As noted above, already in 1952, test pilot A.D. Pereletov made a test flight on the TU-95.

The first flight of the 95-1 model was made from the Zhukovsky airfield. Testing of the unit continued until 1953, when the gearbox on the plane failed. Because of this, a fire started on board, and the TU-95 crashed near the airfield. As a result of the disaster, 4 crew members (commander, engineer, navigator and flight engineer) died. Seven people were saved as a result of the fall.

Tu-95. From the history of the “Russian Bear”

The first attempt to create an intercontinental bomber in the USSR was a deep modernization of the Tu-4.
Airplane 80 (its first flight took place on December 1, 1949) covered a distance of 8,000 km. However, the Korean War, which began soon after, convincingly showed the futility of developing long-range bombers based on piston engines: jet fighters left it less and less chance of breaking through to protected objects. That is why, despite the possibility of achieving a range of more than 12,000 km, further work on the next Soviet strategic bomber, the Tu-85, was stopped. As a new model of such a machine, it was planned to create a bomber with a maximum speed of about 900-950 km/h, a payload capacity of up to 20 tons, a flight range of up to 14-15 thousand km and a flight altitude of 13-14 thousand m. To ensure such high requirements it is necessary It was necessary to apply a new aerodynamic design and use not only a powerful, but also a lightweight power plant, which also had acceptable fuel consumption. There was practically no other opportunity to achieve intercontinental range with all other parameters. Based on TsAGI developments on the aerodynamics of a swept wing and optimization of its design, the A. Tupolev Design Bureau selected the aerodynamic design of a multi-engine aircraft with a 35° swept wing. The layout of its fuselage, crew accommodation, weapons systems and target equipment developed the ideas embodied in the Tu-85, but the presence of a swept wing made it possible to place a large bomb bay behind the wing center section box, which was located near the center of gravity of the aircraft.

The most difficult task was the choice of the power plant and the option for its placement on the aircraft. According to calculations carried out by the design bureau, it was impossible to obtain the required flight performance characteristics, especially for the maximum flight range, using turbojet engines, which the customer insisted on. What the Tupolev Design Bureau “had” at that time was the AM-3 turbojet engine with a thrust of 8700 kgf and the AL-5 with a thrust of 5000 kgf. True, by the end of the forties, OKB V Klimov created a prototype VK-2 turboprop engine with a power of 4820 hp, with a low specific fuel consumption of 326 g/hp. and a specific gravity of 290 g/hp, but the development of this engine has so far been limited to bench tests.

At the same time, the N. Kuznetsov Design Bureau, relying on the work of interned German specialists, presented the TV-2 turboprop engine with a power of 6260 hp for testing. and completed the design of the TV-12 with a fantastic power of 12,000 hp at that time.

The Tupolev Design Bureau carefully studied aircraft options with almost all promising aircraft engines developed in the USSR: turbojet engines, turbojet engines in combination with piston engines, in combination with turboprop engines. Various power plant layouts were studied. In particular, a preliminary design was completed on the topic, in which six AM-3 type turbojet engines were located on both sides of the fuselage, in pairs, one above the other, and two more engines were located in the fuselage below, behind the wing. All this looked very exotic, but even according to the first estimates, it did not allow us to achieve the specified performance characteristics.

As a result, it was concluded that four theater engines with a total power of at least 40,000 hp correspond to the greatest extent to the required aircraft.

The new aircraft received the code “95” at the OKB. The head of work on the topic was N. Bazenkov, later the chief designer of all the numerous variants of the Tu-95 family. In 1976, after his death, N. Kirsanov became the chief designer for all aircraft of the Tu-95 series.

According to the decree on the creation of "95", issued on July 11, 1951, the aircraft was required to be manufactured in two copies. The first with twin TV-2 motors (2TV-2F) and the second with TV-12. The power in both versions was about 12,000 hp. for each engine.

The take-off weight of the new aircraft was determined to be 150 tons, so it was necessary to scrupulously approach issues related to the structural strength of the bomber. First of all, this applied to the swept wing, which had a large span and aspect ratio, and had high aerodynamic properties. The presence of four unusually powerful motors with propellers on the wing required the search for new design solutions to ensure its vibration resistance. At the same time, Tupolev paid special attention to compliance with the conditions for every possible compaction of the layout.

The solution to the complex problem fell to the K. Zhdanov Design Bureau, which developed a gearbox and coaxial four-blade propellers with the opposite direction of rotation. There were no analogues in world aviation practice in those years. As a result, the Tu-95 was equipped with a unique planetary gearbox and propeller with unusually high efficiency in all modes, which remain unsurpassed to this day. In September 1951, the OKB began producing working drawings; in the same month, production of the first copy began, and a year later the first prototype was ready. The objectives of testing this aircraft were to test in the shortest possible time the correctness of the chosen concept of a strategic intercontinental bomber, and to test all its systems and equipment in real conditions. The “95/1” was a purely experimental vehicle, preparing the way for the “95/2” with the TV-12 theater. The “95/1” took flight with a crew led by test pilot A. Perelet on November 12, 1952. The car was in the air for 50 minutes.

All winter and spring of the following year he was tested. On the seventeenth flight, an accident occurred: the third engine caught fire. Despite all the attempts of the crew, the fire could not be extinguished, and A. Perelet gave the command to abandon the plane. On board, without stopping attempts to save the car, only he and flight engineer A. Chernov remained. When leaving the plane, navigator Kirichenko and NISO engineer Bolshakov died, the rest of the crew remained alive.

During the investigation, it was established that the fire occurred as a result of the destruction of the intermediate gear of the third 2TV-2F engine gearbox due to its insufficient strength and was not extinguished due to the insufficient effectiveness of aircraft fire extinguishing equipment.

The disaster was deeply felt by the entire design bureau team, but the second prototype was already under construction, and the task was to take into account all the identified shortcomings and omissions in it, and to use the experience of fine-tuning the first Tu-16.

In July 1954, the 95/2 aircraft was manufactured and until December of the same year stood waiting for TV-12 engines, which were brought to condition. At the Design Bureau of K. Zhdanov and N. Kuznetsov, each unit was checked with special care.

In January 1955, the “backup” was taken to an experimental airfield, and on February 16, the crew led by test pilot M. Nyukhtikov (2nd pilot I. Sukhomlin) made the first takeoff on “95/2”. Its factory tests were completed at the beginning of 1956. By this time, aircraft production was already underway at Kuibyshev plant No. 18. The first two production 95 aircraft took off in October 1955, after which state tests were carried out on three aircraft.

At the same time, the following results were obtained for the “95/2” aircraft: maximum speed - 882 km/h, flight range with a bomb load of 5 tons - 15,040 km, ceiling - 11,300 m. In terms of speed and ceiling, the data did not meet the customer’s requirements, therefore New engines were installed on the second production vehicle (NK-12M instead of NK-12), which already had a take-off power of 15,000 e. l. With. and lower fuel consumption. The aircraft had increased fuel capacity and take-off weight. In September-October 1957, it reached a maximum speed of 905 km/h, a ceiling of 12,150 m, and a range of 16,750 km.

The bomber was accepted for mass production and produced since 1955 in two modifications: Tu-95 and Tu-95M. Soon the first of them began to receive combat units. It was adopted into service in August 1957 and became the main Soviet strategic deterrent at the height of the Cold War until the first ballistic intercontinental missiles were adopted in the sixties.

The Tu-95 and Tu-95M were in serial production until 1959; Several aircraft were produced in the Tu-95MR strategic reconnaissance version. Two cars were converted into passenger cars and used for special transportation. On these aircraft, the bomb bay housed a pressurized cabin for 20-24 people. They were called Tu-116 and were used by the Air Force until the end of the eighties.

Tu-95 bombers were designed to carry out bombing attacks, including nuclear weapons, on strategic targets located deep behind enemy lines. At the time of its creation, it was believed that the combination of high flight speed, altitude and powerful defensive weapons made strategic aircraft practically invulnerable to the then air defense systems. Small arms and cannon weapons (6 23 mm caliber guns) made it possible to provide almost spherical protection from enemy fighter aircraft. The stern installation was equipped with an Argon radar gun sight. The bomb load of the Tu-95 varied from 5 to 15 tons depending on the flight range. The maximum caliber of bombs placed on the internal sling was 9 tons.

The Tu-95 equipment was equipped with the most modern systems of that period, which made it possible to perform flights in difficult weather conditions.

On the first Tu-95, the crew included eight people: two pilots, a navigator, a flight engineer, a navigator-operator, a gunner-radio operator (in the front pressurized cabin) and two gunners in the aft cabin. A feature of the escape system on the Tu-95, unlike other jet bombers of that time, was the absence of ejection seats.

From the front cabin, in an emergency, the crew left the bomber through the open hatch of the nose landing gear using a movable conveyor, and the rear gunners were thrown down through the hatches.

In March 1957, the Tu-95 crashed. The failure of one engine should not have led to a catastrophic situation, but on this flight the system for moving the propellers to the feathering position did not work. Very promptly, a few months later, NK-12MV engines with automatic and manual feathering were put into production.

Strengthening the potential enemy's air defense systems required the aircraft's developers to improve its performance characteristics. Back in 1952, an order was issued to build a high-altitude strategic bomber with a flight ceiling over a target of 17 thousand meters and a flight range at that altitude of up to 9000-10000 km, with a combat load of 5 tons and a speed of 800-850 km/h. It was supposed to install new NK-16 engines, high-altitude and more powerful. The car was named Tu-96. It had slightly larger dimensions, a new fuselage, bow cockpit and center section design. In 1956, the aircraft entered factory testing. But by this time it had already become clear that the high flight altitude would not save the bomber from attacks by supersonic interceptor fighters and anti-aircraft missiles. Work on the Tu-96 was stopped.

The main direction in increasing the efficiency of strike aviation forces in the mid and second half of the fifties was the creation of aircraft-missile systems that used the long range of the carriers and the invulnerability of the projectile aircraft launched from the carrier several hundred or thousand kilometers from the target. This combined option was supposed to increase the survivability of the strike system.

The aviation and missile system, named Tu-95K-20, began to be developed in March 1955. The carrier aircraft underwent alterations: a new nose section was designed, where radars were installed to detect the target and point the projectile aircraft at it. The A. Mikoyan Design Bureau created the X-20 projectile aircraft for the complex with a range of 350 km and a flight speed corresponding to 2M. The X-20 was located in the bomb bay on a special holder, which raised the projectile up before flight and lowered it before launch.

The carrier prototype, Tu-95K, was lifted into the air on January 1, 1956. Finishing work on the complex has begun. To test the X-20 systems, OKB specialists converted a serial MiG-19 (SM-20 aircraft), on which the guidance system, suspension and release from the carrier aircraft were tested in a manned version.

Due to the novelty of the subject, testing and fine-tuning of the complex were delayed, and only in September 1959 the Tu-95K-20 was officially accepted into service. As a result of modifications to the Tu-95, its aerodynamics deteriorated, resulting in a decrease in flight range. Air refueling could have saved the situation. In the spring of 1960, the A. Tupolev Design Bureau was tasked with developing a “hose-cone” refueling system for the Tu-95K. A year later, the first Tu-95K was equipped with such a system and received the name Tu-95KD. Both options. “K” and “KD” were mass-produced until 1965, which significantly increased the combat capabilities of domestic strategic aviation.

In the sixties, some of the K series aircraft had their radio and navigation equipment updated, after which the aircraft received the Tu-95KM designation. At the beginning of the next decade, it was decided to convert the Tu-95K and Tu-95KD into carriers of air-to-ground guided missiles, similar to those used on the Tu-22 and Tu-22M supersonic bombers. The new complex, Tu-95K-22, included one or two missiles, suspended on underwing pylons or in the cargo bay.

The prototype Tu-95K-22, developed on the basis of the serial Tu-95K, first took off from the runway in October 1975. After testing was completed in the late seventies, modifications to the Tu-95K-22 fleet of Tu-95K aircraft began. Since the beginning of the eighties, the vehicles entered combat units in a new quality.

As you know, in the first half of the sixties, the USSR Navy began to enter the ocean. Its submarine and surface forces required a means of long-range reconnaissance and target designation. Already in 1962, the Tu-95RTs entered testing. For two years, the entire complex of radar and radio engineering systems of the new vehicle was refined and brought up to standard, and in 1964 its deliveries to the Navy aviation began.

A special place among the Tu-95 modifications is occupied by the Tu-126 early warning aircraft, equipped with the Liana radar complex. Work on it began back in 1960. The first prototype was ready two years later. In 1965-1967, eight more Tu-126s were produced. All nine aircraft were in service until the early eighties, when they were replaced by the more advanced A-50.

One of the most important components of the American nuclear “triad” since the sixties has been a combination of nuclear submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles. To combat them, the USSR in 1963 began developing a long-range anti-submarine strike system based on the Tu-95, capable of detecting and destroying submarines on the surface and underwater. In the summer of 1968, the experimental Tu-142 made its first takeoff. It differed from the Tu-95 in its target equipment, a new wing design and a reduced number of small arms and cannon weapons. Initially, the Tu-142 had original main landing gear bogies with six wheels, which ensured the possibility of using unpaved runways. Tu-142 aircraft entered service with the Navy aviation in December 1972.

In the seventies, the combat capabilities of nuclear missile submarines increased significantly, which required the modernization of anti-submarine weapons, including aircraft anti-submarine systems. At the OKB named after A.N. Tupolev, under the general leadership of general designer A. Tupolev, in 1972 initiated work on modernizing the Tu-142. As a result, they created the Tu-142M aircraft, which was equipped with equipment for detecting low-noise submarines, a more accurate inertial navigation system, an updated automated radio communication system, a Ladoga magnetometer, and the front cockpit was completely changed. The first flight of the Tu-142M was made by test pilot I. Vedernikov on November 4, 1975. Since 1980, this machine has been successfully operated in parts. Based on the Tu-142M, the Tu-142MR repeater aircraft was subsequently developed for the needs of the submarine fleet.

Work in the United States to modernize strategic strike aircraft systems based on the B-52 and arm them with cruise missiles caused a response from the Soviet side. The start of work on re-equipping the Tu-95 fleet with new missiles can be dated back to the early seventies, when the Tu-95M-5 (Tu-E5K-26 complex) was produced on a trial basis, armed with two KSR-5 missiles used on the Tu-16K -26. However, this direction has not received development.

In 1976, also on a trial basis, one of the production copies of the Tu-95M was converted into a missile carrier with air-launched cruise missiles - the Tu-95M-55. In 1978, it passed factory tests, but this time there was no decision to convert the fleet aircraft.

At the same time, based on the Tu-142M, work was carried out on a strategic carrier of cruise missiles. The new version, called the Tu-95MS, made its first flight in September 1979, and in the early eighties entered service, and to this day is in service with the strategic aviation of the Russian Armed Forces.

Tu-95MS has very high defensive capabilities. The crews assessed the plane as literally unbreakable. The airborne defense system (ADS) of this vehicle has become the most advanced in our country and has surpassed the complex of the American B-52N in many respects. At "EMES" it was possible to successfully resolve the problems of electromagnetic compatibility, which spoiled so much blood during the creation of the Tu-160. In the summer of 1987, during specially conducted tests, its electronics managed to brilliantly thwart all attempts to carry out attacks on the most modern and electronically equipped MiG-31 interceptor. The flight took place at night in simple weather conditions at an altitude of 8000 m. The crew of the thirty-first reported: “I am observing the target visually, I can work with a cannon, it is impossible to carry out a tactical launch.” It is worth noting that the characteristics of the MiG-31 airborne system were significantly superior to those of the American F-15. As you can see, by the end of the last century, the stern gun again returned to its previous meaning.

Combat duty was again organized on these vehicles. At the same time, its crews were no longer subject to the same psychological stress that their predecessors who flew bombers experienced. They did not need to enter the range of powerful air defense, and besides, they did not know their targets, or even the launch point. The crew’s task was to bring the attack vehicle to a certain point, from where it would automatically fly for another hour, after which it would also independently launch missiles.

One of the most famous modifications of the Tu-95 bomber was its passenger version - the Tu-114. Work at the Design Bureau on this aircraft began in 1955. The prototype was lifted into the sky by test pilot A. Yakimov, November 10, 1957. State tests ended in July 1960, and operational tests ended in March of the following year.

On April 24, 1961, the first flight of the Tu-114 with passengers on board took place, traveling from Moscow to Khabarovsk. In total, until 1965, 31 Tu-114s were built at the Kuibyshev aircraft plant, which successfully served on domestic and international routes until 1980. During this period, more than 6 million passengers were transported. The airliner was produced in configurations for 170 and 200 seats. And in 1962, an option was prepared for flights to Cuba: the number of passenger seats was reduced to 120 due to an increase in fuel reserves. Since January 1963, regular flights to Havana began, with one stopover.

The Tu-114 set 32 ​​world records. In addition, in 1958, the airliner was awarded the “Grand Prix” at the Brussels International Exhibition, and A.N. Tupolev was awarded the FAI Grand Gold Medal. Various flying laboratories were also created, where promising aircraft engines, equipment and aircraft systems were tested. There were many unfulfilled projects of carrier aircraft for various types of manned and unmanned objects. The Tu-95, the only aircraft of its class with a theater of operations in the world, has gone through a glorious and difficult path, from its birth to the present day.

Sources: Rigmant V. Tu-95 // Aviation and Cosmonautics. 2001. No. 1. pp. 17-26. Rigmant V. Tu-95 // Aviation and Cosmonautics. 2000. No. 12. pp. 8-14. Kirsanov N. Rigmant V. Having no analogues // Aviation and Cosmonautics. 1992. No. 12. pp. 14-17. Gordon E. Rigmant V. Tu-95. The goal is America // Aviation and time. 1996. No. 5. P.2-20. Antonov D. Rigmant V. From the dossier of the “Russian Bear” // Wings of the Motherland. 1994. No. 6. pp. 8-10. Antonov D. Rigmant V. From the dossier of the “Russian Bear” // Wings of the Motherland. 1994. No. 7. pp. 1-5.

Learn from mistakes

The sad experience pointed out to the designers the shortcomings of the strategic bomber. There were more modern TV-12 engines installed, also known as NK-12, named after the developer N. Kuznetsov. In addition, other changes were made to the technical part of the aircraft. The test sample "95-2" had a total flight time of about 168 hours and was tested until 1955.

In 1956, the TU-95 was supplied to long-range weapons forces, including Ukraine. Nevertheless, further improvements continued. Electronic systems were improved, and weapons were constantly replenished and changed.

Tu-95LAL (order 247) Experimental aircraft with a nuclear power plant

In the late 40s and early 50s, research began in the USSR on the creation of nuclear reactors for ship power plants. The work was concentrated at the institute, headed by Academician I.V. Kurchatov. Soon the institute's topics included work in the field of the use of nuclear energy in aviation. The leadership of aviation topics at the institute was entrusted to Academician A.P. Alexandrova. On August 12, 1955, Resolution No. 1561-868 of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued, according to which some aviation industry enterprises were involved in the atomic aviation problem. OKB-156 of A.N. Tupolev and OKB-23 of V.M. Myasishchev were to design and build aircraft with nuclear power plants, and OKB-276 of N.D. Kuznetsov and OKB-165 of A.M. Lyulka were to develop aviation power plants installations for these aircraft. The creation of an aircraft with such a power plant opened up the opportunity for the Air Force to get its hands on manned combat systems, the duration and range of which would be limited only by the endurance of the crew. Several options for nuclear aviation power plants based on ramjet, turbojet and turboprop engines with different schemes for transferring thermal energy to the engines were studied. Various types of reactors and coolant systems were tested. Types of biological protection of crew and equipment systems from exposure to radioactive radiation acceptable for use in aviation were considered. In the A.N. Tupolev Design Bureau, together with related enterprises and organizations, a large-scale, two-decade program for the creation and development of heavy combat aircraft with nuclear power plants was worked out, which was supposed to culminate in the construction of full-fledged combat subsonic and supersonic aircraft of various types in the 70-80s. appointments. At the first stage, it was planned to create a ground stand for testing an aircraft nuclear power plant, then a similar installation was to be tested on a flying laboratory in order to test the radiation protection system for the crew. On March 28, 1956, a Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued, according to which the design bureau began practical work on designing a flying laboratory based on the Tu-95 serial aircraft to study the effect of radiation from an aviation nuclear reactor on aircraft equipment, as well as to study issues related to radiation protection of the crew and features of operating an aircraft with a nuclear reactor on board. Design work on the ground stand and installation of the reactor on the aircraft was carried out at the Tomilinsky branch of the design bureau, headed by I.F. Nezval. Radiation protection on the stand, and then on the flying laboratory, designated Tu-95LAL (order 247), was manufactured using materials completely new to aircraft construction. Completely new technologies were required to master the production of these new structural materials. They were successfully mastered in the non-metals department of the design bureau under the leadership of A.S. Fainstein. New protective aviation materials and structural elements made from them were created together with specialists from the chemical industry, tested by nuclear scientists and found suitable for use in ground installations and in flying laboratories. In 1958, a ground stand was built and transported to a test site near Semipalatinsk, and at the same time a nuclear power plant was prepared for the flying laboratory. For ease of maintenance, the reactor on the stand and on the flying laboratory was made on a special platform with a lift and, if necessary, could be lowered from the cargo compartment of the aircraft. In the first half of 1959, an experimental launch of the reactor was carried out on a ground stand. During ground tests, it was possible to reach the specified level of reactor power, and now it was possible to move on to work on the flying laboratory. The serial Tu-95M No. 7800408 was allocated for the Tu-95LAL flying laboratory. When converted into a flying laboratory, the bomber lost all weapons, including associated equipment. A five-centimeter lead plate and a 15-cm-thick package of polymer materials were installed immediately behind the cockpit. Sensors were installed in the nose, tail and middle part of the fuselage, as well as on the wings, monitoring the level of radiation. An experimental reactor was placed in the rear cargo compartment. Its protection was somewhat similar to that used in the cabin, but the reactor core was placed inside a round protective casing. Since the reactor was used only as a radiation source, it had to be equipped with a cooling system. Distilled water circulated in close proximity to the nuclear fuel and cooled it. Next, the heat was transferred to the water of the second circuit, which dissipated the received energy using a radiator. The latter was blown by the oncoming flow. The outer casing of the reactor generally fit into the contours of the fuselage of the former bomber, but holes had to be cut in the top and sides of the casing and covered with fairings. In addition, a radiator intake device was installed on the lower surface of the fuselage. For experimental purposes, the reactor's protective casing was equipped with several windows located in different parts of it. The opening and closing of one or another window occurred on command from the control panel in the cockpit. Using these windows, it was possible to increase the radiation in a certain direction and measure the level of its reflection from the environment. All assembly work was completed by the beginning of 1961. After conversion, it was handed over to the customer for flight testing. From May to August 1961, 34 flights were performed on the flying laboratory. Test pilots M.A. Nyukhtikov, E.A. Goryunov, M.A. Zhila and others flew and tested the Tu-95LAL flying laboratory; N.V. Lashkevich was the leader of the vehicle. The flights took place both with a cold reactor and with a working one. These flights mainly tested the effectiveness of biological protection. The crew and experimenters were in the front pressurized cabin, where a sensor was installed that recorded radiation. On board there was a reactor control system connected to the experimenters' console. Flight tests of the Tu-95LAL showed a fairly high efficiency of the applied radiation protection system, which made it possible to continue work on aircraft with nuclear power plants. At the same time, several structural problems were discovered that were planned to be corrected in the future. And yet, the accident of such an aircraft, despite all the means of protection, threatened with serious environmental consequences. Fortunately, all experimental flights of the Tu-95LAL went smoothly and without problems. In August 1961, the reactor was removed from the flying laboratory, and the plane itself was parked at the airfield at the test site. A few years later, the Tu-95LAL without a reactor was transported to Irkutsk, where it was later written off and cut into scrap metal. According to some sources, the reason for dismantling the plane was bureaucratic matters during Perestroika. During this period, the Tu-95LAL flying laboratory was allegedly considered a combat aircraft and was treated in accordance with international agreements. The next important stage in the development of an aircraft with nuclear power systems was to be an experimental aircraft, which received the designation “119” (Tu-119) from the design bureau. But soon after the Tu-95LAL tests were carried out, all work on nuclear aviation was curtailed due to financial restrictions. It must be remembered that at the same time, the USSR was developing programs for the construction of nuclear submarine missile carriers and ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and if a program for the development and construction of nuclear aircraft had been added to this, then even such a rich country as the USSR might not have been able to withstand such expenses . To a certain extent, they were also afraid of a possible accident of a nuclear aircraft, which could cause contamination of large spaces with nuclear components. The biological protection tested at this stage turned out to be reliable, but still bulky and difficult for use in aviation, and further work in this direction was required. And one more important factor. By this time, the Americans, having tested their flying laboratory with a nuclear power plant based on the B-36, designed similarly to the Tu-95LAL, had practically curtailed their further work in this area. There was no one to catch up in this direction, and going ahead was too expensive and dangerous. The decision to stop work on a nuclear aircraft was made, but the very idea of ​​an aircraft with a nuclear power plant was recognized and became quite material in the form of experimental reactors and flying laboratories built in the USSR and the USA.

DesignOKB A.N.Tupolev
Typeexperimental aircraft with nuclear power system
Power point
Number of engines4
EngineTVD NK-12M
Power, e.h.p.15000

Information sources:

  1. Under the signs “ANT” and “TU” / V. Rigmant, Aviation and Cosmonautics No. 7.1999 /
  2. Tu-95 / V. Rigmant, Aviation and Cosmonautics No. 2. 2001 /
  3. “Nuclear Firebird” / L.N. Smirenny, “Science and Life” No. 6, 2008 /
  4. Tu-95 / Russian power /

Modifications of TU-95

From 1956 to 1960, a large number of modifications of the bomber were produced. The most famous of them:

  • TU-95A and TU-95MA (used as nuclear bombers);
  • TU-95M;
  • TU-95K (missile carrier);

It is also worth noting that this strategic bomber served as the basis for the development of such famous aircraft as the TU-142 (used to fight enemy ships) and TU-114 (used as a passenger airliner).

In the mid-60s, the TU-95K was stopped produced, and the same TU-95MS was developed on the basis of the TU-142. This bomber was produced until 1992. In total, about 90 aircraft were assembled, which gradually replaced outdated modifications.

↑ Technical data of the strategic complex

The main characteristics of the Tu-95 airliner, which is intended to be a strategic missile carrier:

  • dimensions of the strategic complex: length - 47.09 meters, distance between the end points of the wings - 50.05 meters, wing area - 295 m2, bomber height 13.2 meters, weight of the equipped missile carrier - 171,000 kg;
  • technical data of the missile carrier: speed - 830 km/h, flight range - 13000 km, flight altitude - 12 km, armament - cruise missiles up to 10 units, two guns for protecting the structure, equipped in the rear fuselage.

Over the years, over 500 Tu-95 units were produced in the form of several main modifications:

  • Tu-95M - an improved missile carrier with the NK-12 theater engine;
  • Tu-95MS, Tu-95K, Tu-95K-22 – strategic missile-carrying bombers;
  • Tu-95MR, Tu-95RTs - aircraft designed to perform reconnaissance and target designation;
  • Tu-142 - anti-submarine defense missile carrier aircraft;
  • Tu-116 – aircraft for special passenger transportation;
  • Tu-114 is a passenger aircraft for long-haul passenger transportation.

About the design in detail

The most interesting is the structural part of the aircraft, since it is here that the brilliant engineering thought of the designers of that time is clearly visible. TU-95MS had an all-metal body and swept wings, which housed 4 screw (turbocharged) engines. It is worth paying attention to the all-electric heating of the wing tips, stabilizer and fin.

The chassis was also carefully worked out. It had a three-post design, which was the most effective, although not the easiest or cheapest to manufacture. Thus, the front pillar was not equipped with brakes and had one wheel. The main struts were equipped with wheels with brakes and were retracted into the gondolas, and the front one into the fuselage.

Emergency evacuation

One of the characteristic features of the TU-95MS was that the crew did not have the ability to eject if necessary. The factory did not provide special seats, which was rather a disadvantage than a strength.

Nevertheless, for emergency evacuation, a special hatch was provided, which was located in the landing gear niche; it could be accessed directly from the front pressurized cabin. The crew in the rear pressurized cabin could be evacuated through the entrance hatch. In addition, there were lifeboats on board in case of an emergency landing on water. In general, the TU-95MS cabin had only one big drawback - the lack of seats for ejection of the crew.

The Russian Ministry of Defense named the probable causes of the Tu-95 MS crash

Photo: KP Archive

On the evening of July 14, in difficult weather conditions, during training flights in the Khabarovsk Territory, a strategic bomber Tu-95MS (“Bear” according to NATO classification) crashed, all seven crew members were able to escape the falling plane, an informed source in the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported. security forces.

The unit to which the emergency aircraft belongs is directly subordinate to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and has no relation to the units of the Eastern Military District. It is possible that the fallen “strategist” was based at the Ukrainka airbase in the Amur region.

“Army aviation planes took off to search for the crash site of the bomber,” noted the interlocutor of KP-Khabarovsk. “The situation is complicated by a powerful cyclone, strong winds and heavy rains - remnants of typhoon Chan Hom.” According to forecasters, this weather will continue in the region for at least another day.

Approximate search location for the Tu-95 MS crew

The flight director ordered the Tu-95MS crew to leave the emergency side using parachutes; the pilot of the search aircraft saw the canopies open. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, before the crash the crew managed to report to the ground that three of the four engines had failed. The flight director ordered the pilots to leave the car. For this purpose, the aircraft has a special system - a conveyor with a moving belt on the floor and hatches in both cabins. A search and rescue aircraft and helicopter soon located the crash site of the bomber. At 15:00 Moscow time on July 13, five crew members of the Tu-95 MS aircraft were delivered to the airfield in Khabarovsk - they have already undergone an initial examination by doctors directly at the airfield and are currently sent to a military hospital for an in-depth examination. There is no threat to the life and health of the five pilots found - they are assistant commander captain Yuri Kravtsov, navigator major Sergei Ponomarev, second navigator senior lieutenant Valentin Filippov, on-board communications operator captain Vasily Devyatkov, rear gunner senior warrant officer Oleg Shakilin. Two crew members died during landing - Majors Anton Batechko and Alexander Zaitsev.

In 2020, the Russian Air Force lost six combat aircraft.

This is not the first incident with an aircraft of this type in recent times - on June 9, at about 17:00 Moscow time, during scheduled training flights at the Ukrainka military airfield (Amur Region), one of the four engines of a Tu-95MS aircraft caught fire while accelerating for takeoff. . The crew decided not to lift the plane into the air, and it skidded off the runway and caught fire. The second navigator Alexey Fedoseev died in the accident; other crew members were able to leave the plane and survived.

On the evening of July 6, during a training flight in the Khabarovsk Territory, the crew of a SU-24M bomber died for unknown reasons during takeoff from the Khurba military airfield near Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The plane crashed and the pilots did not survive.

FROM THE “KP” DOSSIER Tu-95MS “Bear” is a strategic missile-carrying bomber. Designed to destroy important stationary targets with cruise missiles and bomb weapons day and night, in any weather conditions and anywhere in the world. Tactical and technical characteristics Crew, 7 people. Engines - 4 Wing span, m - 50 Aircraft length, m - 49 Aircraft height, m ​​- 13.3 Weight (maximum take-off), kg - 182,500 Payload - 20 tons Maximum speed - 830 km/h Flight altitude - 12 000 m Maximum range, km - 10,500 Armament: RKV-500A (X-55) cruise missiles. The modernized aircraft will be able to carry eight strategic or 14 tactical missiles of a new type on internal and external hardpoints. Missile carriers can also carry 2 containers for small-caliber bombs on the ventral suspension. Defensive weapons - 2 twin 23-mm double-barreled guns GSh-23L.

FROM THE BIOGRAPHY OF “THE BEAR” Work on the creation of a high-speed strategic bomber with an intercontinental flight range (that is, capable of taking off from Soviet airfields, reaching the territory of the United States and returning back), an aircraft carrying nuclear weapons, which received the factory code “95” (aircraft “B” ) began at the A.N. Tupolev Design Bureau in the spring of 1950. The aircraft was supposed to be equipped with a wing-mounted in-flight refueling system (the flight range with one refueling was supposed to be increased to 18,400 km, and the maximum range with several refuelings was 32,000 km.) In 1956, the Tu-95 was adopted by long-range aviation units. Various modifications of the Tu-95 were based, in addition to the USSR, at air bases in Cuba, Guinea, Angola, Somalia and Vietnam. This made it possible for the USSR strategic command to effectively control almost any point on the globe. By the beginning of the 1990s. all aircraft from foreign bases were withdrawn. More than 10 modifications of this aircraft were created. In total, more than 500 Tu-95 aircraft of various modifications were produced. Unlike its predecessors, the modernized Tu-95MS has a new wing with a higher speed profile. A new stabilizer has been installed; now it can automatically change the installation angle, depending on changes in alignment associated with fuel consumption. On-board radio electronic equipment (avionics) has been completely replaced. The latter includes two onboard computers, the Meteor-NM onboard radio-electronic defense complex, etc. Onboard electronic warfare equipment is being modernized.

STATISTICS Today there are 63 Tu-95MS in the Russian Air Force. More than 30 of them are in a state of combat readiness. From 1955 to 1992, more than 280 aircraft of this type were produced. 30 cars were lost in accidents.

FOR COMPARISON, the United States has built more than 650 B-52 strategic bombers since the early 1950s. More than 75 aircraft were lost in various flight accidents. More than 400 pilots were killed.

Commentary by KP military observer Viktor Barants on the air of Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda:

TU-95MS “Bear”: design features of the engine

The truly outstanding element was the NK-12 engine. Even today this turbocharged engine is the most powerful in the world, let alone in the 90s. Its main advantages were the turbine, which is considered extremely economical, as well as the presence of a 14-stage compressor. The turbine itself was also very unique; in addition to being economical, it had an efficiency of 94%, which is also considered a record.

It is easy to guess that the excellent performance of the engine was achieved through experiments by Soviet designers. Something had to be sacrificed. In the case of the TU-95MS, these were aerodynamic performance and noise.

The Bear was the noisiest strategic bomber; even submarines detected it during the flight. But this was not considered critical when performing combat missions. As for the flight range, everything was in order here too. The propeller component had an efficiency of 82%, but low aerodynamics somewhat averaged the flight range. The fuel was located in eleven soft tanks.

Armed and dangerous

It’s worth talking separately about how the Bear was equipped with all kinds of bombs and missiles. The total load was about 12 tons. The fuselage compartment alone houses about 9 tons of free-falling (including nuclear) bombs. Each modification of the TU-95 had its own distinctive features in terms of weapons. So the TU-95KD was equipped with Kh-20 cruise missiles. The nuclear part of the missiles made it possible to operate over a large area from a distance of 300-600 km.

The famous TU-95V, for example, had only one bomb on board. It was a powerful nuclear warhead weighing 26.5 tons and having a yield of 50 megatons. The Tsar Boma tests took place in 1961, after which the only copy of the TU-95V was no longer used for its intended purpose.


Figure 4. Dropping the Tsar Bomba.
The plane, located 39 km from the epicenter, survived and landed on three engines. Over the long history of production of the Tu-95, many varieties have been created, some of which have never even taken to the air.
Of the most famous representatives of the family of Soviet-Russian strategic missile-carrying bombers, we can name those whose models will be presented in the following table. Table 2. Tu-95 modifications

Model markingBrief description, differencePossible combat load
95Produced from 1954 to 1957. based on the second prototype. 30 units collected 12 tons of bombs dropped
95AStrategic bomber designed to transport and drop atomic weapons with enlarged fuel tanks12 tons of bombs dropped
95VModernized, used only for dropping the Tsar BombaAtomic Tsar Bomba, weighing 26.5 tons
95MProduced from 1957 to 1958, 18 units were built. The first model on which Kuibyshev engines began to be installed 12 tons of bombs dropped
95 KMProduced until 1980, built and created through conversion of almost 50 bombers that received updated avionics12 tons of bombs dropped
95MSOne of the most modernized models, actively used today12 tons of drop bombs and 16 Kh-101 cruise missiles
95K-22The sample that served as the prototype for the creation of the MS series12 tons of dropped bombs and additionally had 3 Kh-22 cruise missiles

Combat tests of the X-101 cruise missiles took place in 2020. Several missile carriers stationed in Engels, Saratov region, carried out a crushing airstrike on the positions of terrorists belonging to the banned organization “Islamic State” in Syria.

Regarding the use of modern weapons, Russian President V.V. Putin spoke in the following words: “Weapons of this level, of this class should be the focus of our attention.” In addition, he noted that specialists need to analyze combat experience when working on even more promising weapons.

It must be emphasized that some Tu-95 models were not used for their intended purpose, as a strategic bomber, but also for other purposes. Thus, over the history of production, several single copies have been created that are used in aircraft:

  • Tu-95RTs is a reconnaissance aircraft used by the Russian Navy to point out enemy targets.
  • Tu-95U - training version, 2 units converted for photo reconnaissance.
  • Tu-114 is a passenger aircraft operated by Aeroflot.
  • Tu-116 - passenger, for transporting the country's top officials.
  • Tu-119 is a laboratory aircraft.
  • Tu-126 is an aviation complex for radio detection and guidance.
  • Tu-142 is an anti-submarine aircraft.

The basis of strategic aviation

Indeed, the most effective and popular is the 95th, or more precisely, the TU-95MS modification. Among the weapons, it is worth highlighting the Kh-55 cruise missiles, also known as RKB-500. In a later modification of the bomber, drum loading mechanisms are installed that can accommodate 6 X-55 missiles. There is also a launcher inside the fuselage, which houses ten more RKB-500 missiles. Such colorful weapons make it possible to disable a large number of important strategic enemy ground targets.

Defense weapons are also provided in the form of 23-mm aircraft cannons. Their number, as well as their location, varies depending on the modification. In the case of the TU-95MS, the guns were installed in the lower and aft canopies of the bomber.

Military portal

An eight-seat all-metal cantilever high-wing aircraft with four turboprop engines located in the wings and a three-post retractable landing gear. Strategic bomber.

Created at OKB-156, headed by A.N. Tupolev. The prototype made its first flight on November 12, 1952, lifted by the crew of test pilot A.D. Perelet. Serial production began in 1955 at the Kuibyshev Aviation Plant (currently the Samara Aviation Plant) and continues to this day. The production volume exceeded 500 cars.

In the early 50s, work began at the A. N. Tupolev Design Bureau to create a strategic bomber with an intercontinental flight range. In 1952, the first flight of the new aircraft, designated Tu-95, took place. In 1956, the Tu-95 was adopted by long-range aviation units. A special feature of the new aircraft was the use of a swept wing and, most importantly, for the first time in world aircraft manufacturing for aircraft of this class, the installation of turboprop engines. New NK-12M engines were created at the N.D. Design Bureau. Kuznetsova. The turboprop engines were equipped with differential gearboxes that rotate two coaxial propellers in opposite directions. The fuel consumption of the new engines was only 0.207 kg/(hp*h). The service life of the new theater engine turned out to be 10 times greater than that of any other modern engine used on bombers, including foreign ones. In response to the Americans re-equipping their B-52 Stratofortres strategic bombers with ALCM cruise missiles, the USSR adopted a new modification of the bomber, the Tu-95MS, into service in 1981. The Tu-95MS is designed to destroy important stationary objects with cruise missiles day and night in any weather conditions and anywhere in the world. Unlike the Tu-95, the modernized vehicle has a new wing with a higher speed profile. A new stabilizer has been installed; now it can automatically change the installation angle, depending on changes in alignment associated with fuel consumption. On-board radio-electronic equipment has been completely replaced. The latter includes two on-board computers. On-board electronic warfare equipment is being modernized. The main changes concern strike weapons. A drum launcher equipped with 6 RKV-15B cruise missiles with a firing range of 2500 km is installed in the bomb bay. Construction of the Tu-95MS began at the Samara Aviation Plant. In addition to the USSR, the Tu-95 was based at air bases in Cuba, Guinea, Angola, Somalia and Vietnam. This made it possible for the USSR strategic command to effectively control almost any point on the globe. By the beginning of the 90s, all Tu-95s were withdrawn from foreign bases. In addition to strategic strike aircraft, based on the Tu-95, the AKRLDN Tu-126 radar patrol and guidance aircraft, equipped with the LIANA radio engineering complex, were created. The Tu-126 was intended to detect air targets, starting from medium altitudes.

The Tu-95 was put into service in September 1957. Various modifications of the aircraft were in service with Long-Range Aviation and the Navy until the collapse of the USSR. After this event, the Tu-95 was at the disposal of the Russian and Ukrainian Air Forces. The aircraft have not found any use in Ukraine and are in storage. Negotiations are underway to transfer them in exchange for spare parts for front-line aircraft and helicopters.

Currently, the Tu-95MS is the backbone of Russia's air strategic forces.

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More details about modifications

If we talk in detail about the diversity of the TU-95, then approximately 30 different improvements are known. The most successful of them are:

  • “95-1” and “95-2” prototypes 51-52 years old;
  • TU-95K (the supersonic cruise missiles X-20 were in service);
  • modernization of TU-95MS (carrier of X-55 missiles);
  • T-119 (better known as the “flying laboratory”), etc.

Without any doubt, we can say that the cost of the TU-95MS aircraft was high only in the first stages. Once mass production was established, costs were reduced by 20%.

Strategic bomber Tu-95MS

If the symbols of long-range aviation in Soviet times were the Tu-95M and KM, then the Russian Air Force took their place with the Tu-95MS, equipped with a fundamentally new weapon system - the X-55 long-range cruise missiles.

The variety of aircraft based on the original Tu-95 never ceases to amaze. First, the bomber was transformed into a missile carrier, a little later it was transformed into the ultra-long-range and capacious passenger airliner Tu-114, which in turn served as the base for the Tu-126 AWACS aircraft, and then the long-range reconnaissance target designator Tu-95RTs appeared. Finally, by order of the Navy on the basis of 95RTs in the mid-1960s, the creation of a fundamentally new long-range anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142 began; its first production copies began to arrive in naval aviation in 1972. The development of a domestic small-sized cruise missile also began at the Raduga IKB (Dubna). It became clear that it would be more reasonable to create a new aircraft as a carrier for a new weapon system rather than carry out another (for some examples, the third in a row) conversion of the old Tu-95K. It was decided to create a new missile carrier based on the Tu-142M - the reason was the important differences introduced on it, when the basic Tu-95RTs was adapted to solve completely different problems.


In July 1977, at the Taganrog Aviation Plant, which produced the Tu-142M, the conversion of one of these aircraft into a prototype of the new Tu-95M-55 missile carrier began. On July 31, 1978, it made its first flight, and at the flight test and development base of the Tupolev Design Bureau, the second Tu-95M-55 was converted. 142M already with a full-fledged weapon system. Compared to other projects in the family (Tu-142, Tu-95K-22), the Tu-95MS went from prototype to delivery to the customer unusually quickly; already in 1981 it was put into production at the Taganrog aircraft plant.


Changes to a greater or lesser extent affected almost all elements of the airframe, engines and equipment. The front pressurized cabin was lengthened by 2 m, and the contours of the fuselage in the cockpit area were slightly expanded. The interior and equipment of the cabin have changed dramatically - much attention has finally been paid to the convenience and comfort of the crew during long-term (even without refueling, the duration can reach 12 hours) flights. The cabin glazing has been changed, significantly improving visibility. For the same purpose, the refueling rod is tilted down by 3°.

The wing, in comparison with the first Tu-95, was redesigned both in terms of aerodynamics and design - new profiles were used with an increase in the load-bearing capacity at the ends of the consoles to maintain the effectiveness of the ailerons, the flaps were modified, and caisson compartments were made instead of soft fuel tanks. The wing area has increased slightly. The stabilizer is made adjustable, which made it possible to automatically balance the aircraft when the position of the center of gravity changes (primarily as fuel runs out). The areas of the elevator and direction rudders have been increased. Irreversible hydraulic boosters are used for all three control channels (heading, pitch, roll). An auxiliary power unit appeared in the root part of the keel, making it easier to start the engines (making it possible to do without airfield special equipment). The aircraft received a new modification of the engines - NK-12MP, the engine nacelles for them also changed compared to the first generation aircraft.

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The composition of the sighting and navigation system has also changed. The main difference was the Obzor radar, somewhat more compact and with much greater capabilities than the old YaD. Six small-sized Kh-55 cruise missiles were placed inside the fuselage, and in the Tu-95MS-16 version, 10 more missiles were suspended on external units under the wing. After the signing of the Treaty on the Limitation of Nuclear Forces, all MS-16s were converted into MS-6s.


Several sharp and even absurd zigzags occurred in the fate of the Tu-95/142 family - the aircraft, which began life as a bomber, became a missile carrier, after which the production of the Tu-95 was discontinued due to the launch of the Tu-142 long-range PLO aircraft. And only on the basis of the latter, 10 years later, they created the best version of the missile carrier. The same changes occurred with regard to serial production - the first Tu-142 was built in Kuibyshev, where all previous aircraft of the family were built. However, in 1973, production was stopped and transferred to Taganrog, which at that time (after the completion of the Be-12 series) was without orders.

This meant the need to make a full set of new equipment (and for such a huge aircraft this requires considerable resources) and the development of production by workers and engineers. There, which was logical, they began production of the structurally similar Tu-95MS. But the last act in this leapfrog was the transfer of 95MS production back to Kuibyshev in 1983.


Thanks to the radical redesign, and especially compared to the first-generation aircraft, the Tu-95MS looked very advantageous in all respects and earned the warmest love of both flight and ground crews. The ability to attack targets without approaching the coverage area of ​​a ground-based air defense system means a manifold increase in the chances not only of a successful missile launch and completion of a combat mission, but also of the safe return of crews home. The regiments equipped with the Tu-95MS went on combat duty with the aim of performing the usual missions for long-range aviation - strikes against targets on enemy territory, and not hunting for aircraft carriers in the ocean.

AFTER 1991

The events of 1991 left a deep mark on the fate of the Tu-95 - the last aircraft was produced in 1992. Russia, which became the successor to the USSR, faced the difficult task of building strategic forces - out of four heavy bomber aviation regiments armed with 95MS, one ended up in Ukraine and two in Kazakhstan. If two Semipalatinsk regiments were able to be relocated to Russia, then in Uzin Ukraine transferred the aircraft under its control, although it did not have the opportunity to use them. As a result, the aircraft were withdrawn from service by the end of the 1990s; Of the 23 Uzin aircraft, three returned to Russia to pay off the gas debt, and the rest were destroyed or sent to museums.

Currently, three regiments (two in Seryshevo in the Amur region and one in Engels near Saratov) of the Russian Long-Range Aviation are armed with Tu-95MS, which regularly fly in neutral space, northwest, north and east of the borders of the Russian Federation.

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Structurally, the Tu-95MS is a monoplane with an overhead swept wing, swept horizontal and vertical tail, equipped with four turboprop engines.


The fuselage is a semi-monocoque with a circular cross-section and is technologically divided into six parts, of which the 2nd and 6th are the front and rear pressurized cabins. The wing center section is structurally integral with the fuselage.

The wing is a three-spar, caisson structure, has a sweep of 35° along the 1/4 chord line and consists of a center section and two consoles. The wing is equipped with two-section (left and right of the internal engines) double-slotted flaps. To regulate the flow, aerodynamic ridges (three on each side) are installed on the upper surface of the wing. The stabilizer is adjustable; the installation angle is changed by an electric drive.

The power plant consists of four NK-12MP turboprop engines (a further development of the NK-12MB) with a take-off power of 15,000 e. l. With. with 14-stage axial compressor and 5-stage turbine. To realize this colossal power, KB-150, under the leadership of K. Zhdanov (Stupino), created coaxial AV-60K propellers with a diameter of 5.6 m. Each propeller consists of two 4-bladed variable-pitch propellers rotating in opposite directions (front - clockwise).

Power is transferred from the turbine to the propeller through a differential single-row gearbox. In flight, a change in engine power causes a change in the propeller pitch, and due to this, the engine speed in all modes remains approximately the same - about 8300 rpm. NK-12 was created in the late 1940s - early 1950s at the N. Kuznetsov Design Bureau (Kuibyshev, now Samara) based on the developments of German designers and with the direct participation of German engineers exported to the USSR. Since its introduction, the NK-12 has remained the most powerful theater of war in the world.

The strike armament consists of six small-sized Kh-55 cruise missiles, located in the weapons compartment on a multi-position ejection mount. This missile launcher is similar to the drum of a revolver with cartridges and after each “shot” it also rotates 60°, activating the next missile. Until the moment of launch, the wing, tail unit and even the rocket engine are folded, and only after ejection from the aircraft do all these elements unfold in the air flow, taking up their working position.

The missile navigation and guidance system uses, in addition to the traditional inertial system, data from the altimeter, which is compared with a reference (loaded into memory before launch) relief map, and if there are differences, it makes course corrections. Such a combined system ensures exceptional accuracy - even when launched at a range of 2000 km, the X-55 is guaranteed to have a deviation of no more than 100 m, and under favorable conditions - even 20-30 m. In this regard, the power and, accordingly, the size and weight of the warhead managed to do much less than its predecessor, the X-20 - its accuracy often did not even ensure hitting a square of 8 x 8 km (!), and therefore the power of the warhead had to be increased to three megatons. The X-55, due to its small size, high speed (more than 900 km/h) and low flight altitude (50-100 m), is an extremely difficult target for an air defense system. At the end of the 1980s, the X-55SM version appeared with a range increased to 3000 km due to additional fuel placed in conformal fuel tanks.

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Defensive armament includes a stern cannon installation, traditional for heavy Soviet aircraft - the first aircraft were equipped with a pair of AM-23 cannons, and the rest - double-barreled GSh-23 23 mm caliber. The first generation of the Tu-95 relied heavily on protection from fighters using cannons in three rifle turrets. On the Tu-95MS, two of them (above and below the fuselage) have disappeared, and the remaining one is supposed to be used primarily not for firing at the interceptors themselves, but for causing extensive interference (with the help of special anti-radar and anti-infrared projectiles) to its missiles. To protect against air defense systems, the Tu-95MS relies to a greater extent not on the aft “artillery”, but on the on-board defense system, which includes sensors for detecting radiation, analyzing these signals and applying appropriate interference.

The landing gear is retractable and has a front and two main struts. The front pillar is steerable, equipped with a pair of non-braking wheels and retracts hydraulically into a niche under the cab. The main struts have 4-wheel bogies with brake wheels that retract electrically to the rear of the inboard engine nacelles.

The crew consists of seven people housed in two pressurized cabins. In the front there are workstations for the ship's commander (left pilot), assistant ship commander (right pilot), navigator-navigator, navigator-weapon systems operator, flight engineer and on-board communications systems operator. In the rear is the operator of the stern firing installations (stern gunner). There are no ejection seats in the Tu-95, and emergency escape from the aircraft occurs through the entrance hatches (in the front cockpit the hatch is located in the niche of the front landing gear).


  • Type: 4-engine strategic missile carrier
  • Crew, people: 7
  • Engines: TVD Kuznetsov NK-12MP power 4 x 11,185 kW
  • Dimensions, m: - length: 49.1 - wingspan: 50.04
  • Weight, kg: - empty aircraft: 98,500 - maximum take-off: 185,000
  • Technical characteristics: - maximum speed, km/h: 830 (at an altitude of 10 km) - ceiling, km: more than 12 - range, km: 10,500 (without refueling) Armament: two 2-barreled 23-mm GSh-23 cannons aft turret installation of 6 X-55 cruise missiles on internal sling

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Operation in different countries

The first regiment was formed in the city of Uzin (Kiev region). Subsequently, the 182nd regiment appeared, based in Mozdok. After the collapse of the USSR, the bombers were located in Engels.

Several aircraft of Regiment 106 were in a state of high combat readiness. They patrolled the northern directions, reaching the Arctic. The 79th regiment was intended to attack NATO bases in Asia, as well as Chinese territory in the event of a threat. Several planes of the detachment, based in Semipalatinsk, were on constant air duty. Special airfields were created in different parts of the country and abroad to evacuate bombers in the event of a surprise attack.

Regular reconnaissance was carried out in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Due to the high frequency of flights, NATO soldiers called our bomber the “Orient Express”, since it was regularly sent to eastern airfields in Russia. After the collapse of the USSR, the issue of withdrawing bombers from other countries and returning them to Russia suddenly arose. Some of them were transported from Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Approximately 20-25 aircraft were lost during various flight operations throughout the entire period.

The main disadvantages of the bomber

The key feature of the TU-95MS engines was their high power, but these engines also had their drawbacks. For example, the oil used was mineral-based and was not intended for operation at low temperatures. So, when the mark on the thermometer was below 0, the screws became staked, therefore, starting the unit was impossible.

To solve this problem, various types of heat guns and heat-insulating covers were used. To prevent the oil from freezing, the engines were started every two hours. After some time, MH-7.5U oil was developed with a freezing point of -25 degrees Celsius.

It is practically impossible to replace the NK-12 engine with a more modern one, since this requires a huge number of alterations, as well as highly qualified personnel. After all, it's not financially viable.

As the diagram above the TU-95MS makes it possible to understand, placing the crew in a pressurized cabin also had its drawbacks. In particular, dryness and oily dust in the air, uncomfortable seats and toilets. All this led to premature fatigue of the crew during long flights. Also, as noted above, there were and are no devices on the plane for ejection during the fall.

Provocations from the “Bear”

After 2000, it happened several times that TU-95MS violated the air borders of other countries. For example, in 2008, Japanese airspace was violated, according to inaccurate data, for 3 minutes. That same year, three bombers were in the vicinity of the American destroyer Nimitz. The US Air Force sent F/A-18 fighters to intercept. 80 km from the destroyer, the TU-95MS were intercepted, although one of them still managed to fly over the ship at an altitude of approximately 550 meters.

It cannot be said that such cases are isolated, especially often the airspace of different countries was violated after 2008, and this is due to the fact that strategic bombers began to be sent on patrol. Such incidents always end up in the press, and NATO countries call it a “provocation.” Currently, the TU-95MS, a strategic missile-carrying bomber, continues to fly, despite the fact that there are more modern and reliable machines. Although the same can be said about tanks and ships of the Russian Federation.

↑ Russians joke too

An interesting story happened off the coast of Cuba, when the missile carrier was once again conducting aerial photography. An American interceptor took off from a US Navy aircraft carrier and approached the Tu-95. The interceptor pilot indicated with signs that the contents of the bomb bay should be shown.

The Soviet strategic aviation complex opened the bomb bay and, as the fighter approached again, making sure that it only had photographic equipment, he calmed down, but decided to make a little joke: he gave the landing sign, having specified the command, the Tu-95 with all its technical characteristics began to land, performing all the required program.

The reaction of the Americans was unambiguous: the hulk landing on the aircraft carrier exceeded the dimensions of its deck. Out of horror, the team was forced to “leave the duty station,” which was about nine floors high.

The bomber, of course, did not board the aircraft carrier and continued its flight at an altitude inaccessible to locators. Witnesses at the airfield described how the laughing crew literally fell out of the missile carrier.

Let's sum it up

As a conclusion, we can safely say that the TU-95MS “Bear,” the characteristics of which we have reviewed, is one of the most powerful and impressive aircraft of the 90s and even today. The advantages include high load capacity, high power and flight range. All this is extremely important for a bomber. Of course, each such machine has its own disadvantages, which we also discussed.

Most of the weaknesses were eliminated during testing, as well as during modifications to the unit. This applies to both the power plant and weapons. Now we can safely say that the TU-95MS (“Bear”), whose characteristics are surprising even now, caused mixed reactions from other countries in the 1990s. That is why the bomber is in service with the Russian Air Force and there is unlikely to be a replacement for it in the next few years. But with the development of the latest air defense systems, radars, and other equipment, aircraft such as the Bear have little chance of successfully conducting an operation. Although we can only hope that the TU-95 MS will not be used for its intended purpose. After some time, the long-range bomber will peacefully go to the military museum.

History of the creation of the Tu-95

The Bear plane is considered one of the many symbols of the Cold War between the USSR and the USA. The decree on the creation of a strategic long-range bomber was addressed to the Design Bureau of A. N. Tupolev in 1951. Within 2 months, full-size mock-ups were created, on the basis of which further developments were carried out.

The first experimental model was built in 1952. On November 12, the plane took to the skies. During tests carried out with the “95-1” sample, shortcomings were identified, and after 2.5 years the second version “95-2” was assembled, which made its first flight on February 16, 1955.

The following year, 1956, the model successfully passed state tests and was demonstrated at the parade in honor of Aviation Day. Next year, serially produced modifications begin to install improved NK-12M power units, and under the Tu-95M marking the bomber begins to enter the ranks of the Armed Forces of the SA.

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